It’s Only the Freaking Flu Guys, Christssake.

Healthcare and the USA are items best left for someone else to describe in detail. I only know that there’s a strange business style to the medical care over here where people are constantly being reminded that they are unhealthy or might die at any given moment and, for better or worse, you need to save yourself. This is obviously not the case. Any single American moving to the UK will realise that we don’t have this and we are not falling over ourselves dying each day.

The reason this was brought to my attention was a recent meeting where we as a project were greeted by the Doctors that reside in the building that are employed by the company directly. The company pay for these people to give quick medical advice to employees without them having to leave the office to go and wait at their GPs offices. I guess that’s a good idea for such a large, people centric company. Quickly though I see through it as the cynical Brit I am.

Firstly, their talk was about the impending Flu season. In the UK, there is no such thing – there’s just the winter and that’s when it happens. The reason that we were told about the Flu and its upcoming apocalypse stems from the fact that it costs each person $135 a day to have the Flu. This was not quantified in anyway nor was it backed up at all by the persons giving the presentation, so I don’t know where it comes from. Medical bills? Lost time at work? The government actually send you a bill for being sick?

The other figure that was banded about with glee was the total cost a year to the economy - $10 billion. That’s 74’074’074.07 (a strangely neat number) times the initial $135 a day. Or, 74 million days off a year. So, after a few quick calculations (see below) the working population is 192’785’534 people or, if everyone was working at a best case scenario, each person takes less than half a day off a year each which is obviously total nonsense.

The reason why this happens is strange – from my personal sources (aka Josephine what sits next to me and is constantly asked questions by me about life here) it seems that if you are sick you take it off as a Holiday day, or Personal Time Off as they call it. The incredible thing is that you actually have to build it up based on the hours you work instead of in the UK where it is guaranteed by law to be a certain amount. So, in the US you get less holiday and you have to take it when you are sick. That’s a terrible situation.

So when companies are getting you to pay for healthcare either through insurance or otherwise, maybe you don’t take days off. If you are going to lose holidays if you are off sick, maybe you don’t take the days off. And, maybe, if you are worried about losing the money and holidays you do listen to the scaremongering Flu vaccination people and pay to get it done. And the cycle is complete – you are paying them back for their time they spent on reminding you that you are going to die.

My workings
From: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html
USA Population: 307’066’550
(Assume working population is 18 to 65)
% of population that is under 18 = 24.3% = 74’617’171
% of population that is over 65 = 12.9% = 39’603’844
Total non-working population = 114’221’015 (or 37.5%)
Working population = 192’785’534.